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Old August 23 2009, 03:21 AM   #31
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Fourteen

Captain’s personal log, stardate 51074.6: The Lambda Paz is on course back to Starbase 375. The two fleets suffered heavy losses. But that loss of life does not compare to a more personal loss. To quote a Terran expression: “You don’t appreciate what you have, until it’s gone.

Limis recorded that log in her ready room. After giving the command, “End log,” she picked up what was left of her late former husband’s earring. The force of the impact on the floor created some kind of explosion that momentarily blinded the others. Most of the surrounding metal either disintegrated or burned. Though she never the religion the earring symbolized, it was one of the few remnants of Hasin Arnit.

She was lost in that though when the door chimed. “Come in,” she said lethargically.

Kozar entered holding a larger-sized padd. The captain looked up and saw the first officer. She quickly placed the earring in a drawer, embarrassed that a crewmember saw her in a moment of vulnerability.

Kozar stepped through the doorway, but continued no further. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” he asked.

“No,” Limis answered shaking her head. “Just distracted.
What do you have?”

“The damage report, sir,” said Kozar, holding up the padd. He then placed it in on the desk.

“Can you give me the short version?” Limis asked with a slight grin at how these discussions usually went.

“Sh’Aqba has crews working around the clock on the starboard nacelle,” Kozar began. “We can manage no more than Warp Four. At least the enemy is no longer pursuing us.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Limis said half-sarcastically. “How many ships did we lose?”

“A hundred twelve from the Seventh Fleet,” Kozar ruefully answered. “One hundred forty-seven from the Fifth.”

Limis sighed dejectedly. She had dealt with such colossal losses throughout her life. If this battle was any indication, Limis immediately knew that regardless of the war’s outcome, the Federation would suffer losses by the time it was all over.

The loss that affected her most was not something Limis could discuss with the first officer. She called Rebecca to her quarters to discuss the man she thought she stopped loving years ago. The biggest question was why Arnit, after implementing his vengeful plan, decided to allow the surviving ships to escape the mass slaughter.

“Perhaps he wanted to make sure your life was spared,” Rebecca suggested. Both were seated on the sofa in the captain’s quarters.

“You may be right,” Vircona replied. “But he didn’t seem to care initially I would die with them.”

“He may have felt guilty on some level. He made careless mistakes. Perhaps he wanted to get caught.”

Vircona grinned. Her friend sounded like a counselor even though this ship had none. “Are you sure you weren’t a psychologist by day when you were a terrorist by night?” she jokingly asked.

“No,” Rebecca answered. “I was a maintenance engineer at the Volan colony.

“He was willing to die for you, Vira,” Rebecca continued, “just like Michael was willing to die for all of us.”

“They were people, not machines though,” Vircona said, staring vacantly out the viewport at the starfield. “I’ve buried so many friends and loved ones. A little of me died with them. How much life will I have left when this war ends?”

Rebecca scooted over to her left and placed her right hand on Vircona’s shoulder. “At least the cause is alive,” she said, “even if very few of us are left. Be grateful.”

“Than you, Becca,” Vircona whispered. She began fighting back tears while she clasped Rebecca’s hand.

Rebecca’s eyes began to well up as well. Both women then shared an embrace.

Chapter Fifteen

Stardate 51102, one month later

After about a three week layover at Starbase 375, the Lambda Paz was ready to rejoin the Seventh Fleet in the Tyra System. Ships in that fleet not as heavily damaged were forced into retreat in an adjacent sector. The Starfleet vessels were charged with cutting Dominion supply lines between the Klingon and Cardassian Empires. They were only able to slow the Dominion’s advance. A fresh set of ships would now rejoin the fleet in the Tyra System.

Limis was inspired by Sullivan’s words. She confidently sauntered onto the bridge from her ready room when the ship was ready to get underway. “You need only give the word, Captain,” Kozar stated.

Limis nodded. She then shot glances at Morrison, then Huckaby, and finally Carson. “Many of our colleagues died in our last engagement,” she said. “But our cause lives on.
“The best way to honor their memories is to continue in the fight they made the ultimate sacrifice for. We must be sure their lives were not wasted.”

The entire bridge crew applauded, except for Kozar. Seeing that he was the only one, he quickly joined in. Maybe Limis was the right choice for command, as he would not have been so eloquent.

“Set a course for the Tyra System, Miss Carson,” said Limis. “We press on.”
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Old September 1 2009, 07:35 PM   #32
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Episode 2: Moral Dilemma

Historians Note: The first chapter and epilogue take place one day prior to the opening scenes of “A Time to Stand”. The main events of this story take place two weeks before the events of that same episode.

Chapter One

The Seventh Fleet was heavily outnumbered and under heavy fire from a large armada of Jem’Hadar battleships and smaller support vessels. The smaller fighters were taking small Starfleet and Klingon support fighters as if they were easy target practice. A combination Akira and Steamrunner-class destroyers countered with a flurry quantum torpedoes, destroying a few the enemy fighters.

Larger Federation and Klingon ships faced off against the larger Jem’Hadar battleships. The USS Lambda Paz took a flurry of plasma torpedoes from a cruiser inflicting damage to the unprotected forward saucer section. The Lambda Paz fired forward phasers at point blank range causing some moderate damage. The battleship fired another spread of torpedoes at the port side of the primary hull.

The bridge rocked. Tactical officer Mandel Morrison kept entering commands to fire phasers at the Jem’Hadar attack ship as it was moving towards other targets. His tactical display then indicated another attack ship, flanked by two smaller fighters off their bow. “Three more Jem’Hadar ships off the port bow,” he reported to Captain Limis Vircona and first officer Ronnie Kozar.

The captain sat in the command chair viewing her side console to watch a backup tactical display. “Forward phasers at the flanking fighters,” she ordered. “Full spread of quantum torpedoes on the attack ship.”

A simultaneous spread of phasers and quantum torpedoes erupted from the ship. The phasers knocked out the forward shields of the fighters while the shields of the attack ship absorbed the torpedoes. The enemy ships moved off, but the Lambda Paz arched upward and around towards the three ships. Two separate phaser bursts incinerated the two fighters. The attack ship fired aft torpedoes at the ventral of the saucer section. Two fighters moved in from below and fired disruptors at the lower secondary hull.

Sparks flew from various auxiliary stations on the bridge while gas leak erupted from the aft situation monitor. “We’ve lost number three and number four shields,” Ensign Willis Huckaby reported from Ops. “Fire suppression system is offline.”

“Return fire with whatever you can muster,” Kozar shouted to Morrison. “Helm, evasive pattern Pike-delta.”

The Lambda Paz arched downward exposing the still protected half of the ship. A battleship swooped in from behind and launched a pair of plasma torpedoes tearing a hole in the forward saucer section.

“Hull breach in the forward saucer,” Huckaby reported. “Emergency force fields off-line.”

“Primary phaser array has failed,” Morrison added. “We’re down to six quantum torpedoes.”

“Notify the rest of the fleet,” Limis commanded. “We’re getting the hell out of here.”

The Lambda Paz laid down suppression fire with the secondary phaser arrays still available as it moved upward and then streaked into warp. Thirteen other vessels followed. Of course the fleet initially consisted of one hundred twelve ships. With the Dominion moving closer to Klingon territory, Starfleet dispatched a large number of Federation and Klingon ships to make a stand in the Tyra System. Instead of slowing the Dominion’s advance, The Federation and the Klingon Empire suffered a devastating defeat.

“How many other ships managed to escape?” Limis asked, rising from her chair.

“Thirteen, sir,” Morrison answered.

“Fourteen ships?” Kozar repeated. “Out of a hundred twelve?! My God!”

Kozar stood up and looked over at Ops. “What’s our status?” he asked Huckaby.

“Main power and internal sensors are offline,” Huckaby replied.

“Do a deck-by-deck survey,” Limis said, dejectedly. “I want a full damage report. I’ll be in my ready room.”

Limis stepped into the dark and messy ready room, breathing slowly. She wanted to explode in a fit of rage. For three months, the Federation and its allies endured one painful defeat after another. Somehow reminding herself of the defeats she had dealt with throughout her entire adult life was of no consolation to her at this time. The future of the entire quadrant depended on the outcome of this war. If the Dominion was allowed to prevail, Limis dreaded the thought that not only would she be failing her cohorts, living or dead, but the entire Alpha Quadrant.

She grabbed a piece of debris and flung it against the wall before walking over to her desk. That was enough to calm her down for now. “Begin captain’s personal log,” she said, sitting down behind the desk.

“Stardate 51196.3,” Limis began after the computer chime. “We’ve suffered another major defeat at the hands of the Dominion. They outnumber us two to one at nearly every turn. I can’t help wondering now if my actions two weeks ago were warranted. They information we received may help the Federation achieve even a minor victory.

“In the meantime, have I become the enemy I seek to destroy?”
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Old September 1 2009, 09:31 PM   #33
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

This is a bloody mess. Thousands lost, the Fleet crippled. I am waiting to see if you pull a rabbit out of your hat...
...sf fandom is only a personality disorder if you do it right.-Klaus - archive stories! for honest gaming

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Old September 2 2009, 02:46 AM   #34
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Before continuing any further with this latest story, let me say it borrows from the DS9 episode "In Pale Moonlight" where Sisko reflects on his actions and the Enterprise "Anomaly" where Archer tortures a prisoner to obtain important information.
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Old September 8 2009, 07:43 PM   #35
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Two

Stardate 51189: Two weeks earlier

For nearly a month, the Seventh Fleet was engaged in small-scale hit-and-run engagements with the Jem’Hadar in the Tyra System. They were hoping to soften and maybe even divide our forces in preparation for a larger engagement. Our fleet used this opportunity to try to slow them down.

The Lambda Paz was playing cat-and-mouse with a pair of Jem’Hadar fighters in the atmosphere of a gas giant, the Tyra System’s seventh planet. The ship was in gray mode to avoid attracting too much attention from the enemy. The major drawback of this maneuver, of course, was the ship had minimal sensors, so they wouldn’t know an enemy vessel was approaching until it was right on top of them. At least the Jem’Hadar were at a similar disadvantage.

Lieutenant Shinar sh’Aqba sat at the auxiliary mission operations station behind tactical monitoring what little sensor capability the ship had. Captain Limis assisted in conducting echolocation sensor scans. Kozar and Morrison, meanwhile, kept an eye on the tactical display. The displays on both station’s screens were blank, yet everyone knew that could change at any minute, except for the Starfleet delta representing their own ship.

Almost in the blink of an eye, a second blip appeared on the mission ops display. A Jem’Hadar fighter emerged from the atmospheric eddy current firing its disruptors at the Lambda Paz’s aft. The Starfleet ship fired back with its secondary, then primary port phasers.

“Direct hit to the ventral fusion core,” Morrison reported.
“We’ve ignited a pocket of toh-maire gas,” sh’Aqba added. “Initiating evasive maneuvers.” Helm control had been temporarily transferred to sh’Aqba’s station in order to change course at a moment’s notice to avoid unpredictable pockets of incendiary gases and to keep from giving away the ship’s position through echolocation scans.

The gas grazed the starboard nacelles of both the Lambda Paz and the Jem’Hadar fighter. The bridge of the Lambda Paz rocked with enough force send everyone flying had they not been grasping their stations. “So much for evasive maneuvers,” Morrison retorted, rolling his eyes. “The Jem’Hadar is coming around for another pass.”

“We could use these pockets to our advantage,” Limis mused. “Sh’Aqba, come to within five hundred kilometers of him. Morrison, on my mark, fire main phasers straight at the nose of the ship.”

“That’s going to be cutting it rather close,” Kozar contended.

“Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair, Mister Kozar,” the captain quipped in reference to Kozar having been passed up for command of the Lambda Paz.

Kozar knew immediately that was a jab at him. He took plenty of risks as a frigate post-captain, but they were usually within the bounds of Starfleet protocol. Of course, this was not the time to offer a response.

The two vessels came nose-to-nose with one another with the Jem’Hadar continuing to fire disruptors. The Lambda Paz fired phasers point-blank, then arched upward. The gas ignited, enveloping the enemy fighter in a fireball.

The Lambda Paz took a hit to the ventral of the hull. The bridge rocked hard again. “Let’s not do that again,” sh’Aqba muttered once she was standing upright.

“We may not have another opportunity,” Morrison replied. “The phaser burst at such close range sent a feedback pulse shorting out the emitters.”

“Make repairing them a top priority then,” Limis pointedly responded. “Any luck with the other guy?”

“No, sir,” sh’Aqba answered. “He’s probably waiting us like we were waiting out the ship that just went up in smoke.”

“What would be the point in locating the fighter?” Kozar asked the captain. “Just being in this atmosphere is taking a huge chance with a ship not designed for sub-orbital flight.”

“I haven’t forgotten your objections,” Limis stated. “If that ship gets out intact, he’ll sent word to his superiors we were too afraid to finish what we started. It’s him or us.”

“Put it that way, it may as well be him,” Morrison retorted. “We don’t have phasers and we don’t dare try torpedoes with these gases screwing up their guidance systems.”

“Then we try something else,” Limis offered, “whether that meets with safety protocols or not.”

Limis sauntered over to the command chair and tapped the comm panel on its left. “Bridge to Commander Logan. Any ideas on how to use the engines to ignite the toh-maire gas when we come face-to-face with that other fighter.”

“What you are proposing could destroy us as well as the Jem’Hadar,” Logan replied from the main engineering section.

“Of course, we could collect some of that gas with the bussard collectors and ram it down their throats, although we run the risk of severely damaging the nacelles.”

Second Lieutenant Erhlich Tarlazzi was an assistant engineer in training. He was overseeing the matter-antimatter conversion rates while overhearing the discussion over the comm. “Captain, if I may make a suggestion, “ he said. “Do you remember how we outran those Cardassian frigates in the McAllister Nebula?”

“Of course,” the captain replied. She knew exactly what her Maquis colleague was suggesting, but she felt Tarlazzi would be such a good idea in this particular situation. “What are you suggesting?”

“We calibrate a disproportionate matter-antimatter mix,” Tarlazzi replied. “When the emergency dump kicks in, we make sure we’re over a pocket of toh-maire gas.”

Kozar winced at the Rigellian engineer’s suggestion. He knew that Logan had final approval regarding pitching suggestions to the CO as the engineering department, and immediately asked for the chief’s input. “What do you make of this, Mister Logan?”

“If I remember correctly,” Logan grudgingly replied, “the McAllister Nebula is composed of chromium that jams sensors. It’s less volatile than toh-maire. The eruption could encompass us.”

“Not if we time it properly,” Tarlazzi interjected.

“’Not if we time it properly’,” Logan sarcastically repeated. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

“The calibrations should be completed in about two minutes,” Tarlazzi continued over the comm channel.

Kozar looked over at Limis to make a suggestion. “We should evacuate the lower most decks.”

Limis nodded and spoke over the comm. “Keep us posted,” she said, before closing the channel.

Logan then approached Tarlazzi to discuss a matter of Starfleet protocol while the engineering assistant was preparing the calibrations. “In the future,” he said calmly and quietly, “you should bring any suggestions you have to me first.”

Tarlazzi rolled his eyes at Logan splitting hairs yet again. “Is this another silly Starfleet protocol?” he wittingly asked.
“There’s nothing silly about it, Lieutenant. In Starfleet, we follow the chain of command.”

“Sounds rather inefficient if you ask me,” Tarlazzi replied with a sigh. “The captain trusts my judgment.”

“That is beside the point. I bring all the alternatives to the captain’s attention, and that way she has less people to interact with regarding every aspect of the operation of this ship. Am I making sense, Mister Tarlazzi?”

“Yes, sir,” Tarlazzi relented, placing his hand against the top of his forehead, and then giving an old Earth military salute. “Consider me on report.”

Once the calculations were completed, Tarlazzi then hailed the bridge despite the chief engineer’s explanation of the benefits of the chain of command. “Engineering to bridge, we’re ready to put this plan in motion.”

Limis kept the comm channel, while standing up out of her chair and paced toward the tactical station. “Any sign of that Jem’Hadar fighter?” she asked Morrison and sh’Aqba.
Morrison saw nothing of interest on the tactical display. He then shot a glance of sh’Aqba. “I’m getting something on sensors,” she said. “It could be the Jem’Hadar.”

“Keep a sensor lock on it,” Limis ordered. “Locate the nearest pocket of toh-maire and set a course at one-quarter impulse.”

The remaining Jem’Hadar fighter streaked through a cloud and was right on top of the Lambda Paz. The fighter fired disruptors at point blank range. Sparks flew throughout the bridge. The operations console and two of the auxiliary control stations behind it exploded, sending Ensign Willis Huckaby and two other officers to the deck. Kozar leapt from his seat to take over at Ops. “Medics to the bridge,” he called.

Limis grabbed the front of the tactical console to keep from falling. “Conn, take evasive action,” she shouted to the flight controller, second Lieutenant Sara Carson. “Get us on top of that toh-maire.”

Sh’Aqba and Carson did their best to comply as the ship continued to take enemy weapons fire. Limis sighed in frustration at not being able to return fire. Of course, if this plan did not work, no one on board would be alive to worry about conventional weapons not being available. “Calibrate the mix on my mark, Engineering,” she said over the comm.

Tarlazzi acknowledged the command and kept a firm hand on the console overlooking the warp core. From where he was standing, he could only wait for Vircona make the mark. The comm channel remained open to stay in constant communication with the bridge. He still could not help thinking that life or death in the next few minutes was completely out of his control.

“Mark,” the captain called.

Tarlazzi’s hand danced over the console to implement this risky maneuver. The hum of the warp core became louder and louder. On the ventral of the ship, a compartment opened to release the excess antimatter. As expected, a gaseous eruption resulted. The eruption shattered the enemy fighter, but it also sheered into the Lambda Paz.

Bridge personnel were sent to the deck from the eruption. Limis grasped the carpeting on the floor to keep from being thrown hard into a bulkhead. “Warp Four,” she called. “Any heading.”

The Lambda Paz’s nacelles lit up and sent the ship streaking into warp to escape further damage. Everyone on the bridge was back on his or her feet. Medical technicians entered the bridge from the port emergency access hatch off the port turbolift to attend to Huckaby and other wounded officers. A human female officer entered the bridge from the port
turbolift to take over Ops. “What’s our damage?” the captain asked.

“Main phaser array is burned out,” Morrison answered. “Secondary phasers have limited effectiveness. Shields are at forty-two percent effectiveness.”

Limis looked over at the relief Ops officer, but then remembered that officer just arrived and would not have anything to report. “Engineering?” she asked over the comm.

Logan stood at the main situation monitor in engineering displaying a schematic of the ship. “We have hull breaches on decks nineteen and twenty,” he reported. “Hopefully no one was down there when the emergency bulkheads closed.”

“Send the reports to my ready room as they’re updated,” Limis said before closing the comm channel. “The bridge is yours, Mister Kozar.”

Captain Limis sat in her ready room sipping raktajino and looking at personnel files of her crew. This was the most arduous part of her on the job training, as her ship was sent out on an important mission almost the second she got this command. Kozar could vouch for a lot of them, taking some the pressure off her to get to know her crew.

The file on her chief medical officer intrigued Limis the most. Doctor Aurellan Markalis had graduated at the top of her class in medical school. She had received numerous commendations for her work as a trauma surgeon during her brief, but illustrious career. Her file also noted her difficulties getting along with fellow officers, and that she often kept to herself, impeding opportunities for advancement.

The part that Limis found puzzling was a security notation in red capital letters stating: MEDICAL FILES RESTRICTED TO PERSONNEL AT STARFLEET MEDICAL HEADQUARTERS AND MEDICAL PERSONNEL AT ASSIGNED STARSHIP OR STARBASE. Those files may have contained information that might be of the interest to Markalis’s commanding officer, as she was what Terrans called an “oddball.”

The sound of the door chime diverted Limis’s attention from the monitor. “Yes, come in,” she said eagerly.

Kozar stepped into the ready room carrying a padd. After two months in command, Limis had gotten accustomed to the first officer being the bearer of bad news. This visit was likely to be no exception. “The damage report, Captain,” he said, holding up the padd and setting it on the desk.

“I’ll look it over in a minute,” the captain replied. “I have a question regarding one of the crew if you don’t mind.”

Kozar raised an eyebrow and sat down in one of the guest chairs. This was not the first time the captain had a question about a crewmember. Limis turned the desk monitor around to show Doctor Markalis’s file. “How do you explain this?” she asked, pointing to the notation that piqued her interest.

“I don’t understand,” Kozar replied.

“Why would an officer’s medical files be off limits to his or her CO? What if the information in those files would be of interest?”

“I wouldn’t want you knowing about illnesses or ailments as long as it does not impair my ability to perform my duties.”

Limis chuckled. The Terran concept of privacy seemed rather contradictory. “I’d probably see it that way. But for enlightened races, a lot of the Federation members have broad definitions of privacy. Even the logical, unemotional Vulcans are reluctant to discuss their mating practices with off-worlders.”

The comm chimed and Morrison signaled from the bridge. “Bridge to the ready room. We’re receiving a distress call from a vessel approximately three light years away.”

“Lay in an intercept course at maximum warp,” the captain replied. “We’re on our way.”

After three and a half hours at high warp, the Lambda Paz slowed to impulse. The gamma-shift had already come on duty by this time. Ensign Rebecca Sullivan sat at the conn ready to change course at a moment’s notice. Limis, Kozar, and Morrison remained on duty given the urgent nature of this situation.

“Try hailing them,” the captain commanded.

“Channel open,” Morrison replied.

“This is Captain Lims Vircona of the Federation starship Lambda Paz. We’ve answered your distress call. What kind of assistance do you require?”

The hail was followed by several seconds of silence. “Do they hear us?” Kozar asked.

“They’re transceiver is in full working order,” Morrison replied.
Looking at the viewscreen, Sullivan saw the freighter move off. “Captain,” she called. “They’re moving off.”

Limis looked up at the viewscreen to see what Sullivan had seen. “What the hell are they doing?” she wondered aloud.
“They’re moving below our secondary hull,” Sullivan answered.

A indicator flashed on Morrison’s console. “An escape pod is moving toward the hull breach,” he reported.

“Do we have shields around that section?” Limis asked.

“No, sir,” said Morrison. “Those generators are still offline.”
“Then send security teams down there and sound the intruder alert.”

The bridge rocked from the impact of the escape pod. Down on deck twenty, meanwhile, a group of Nausican, Breen, and Ferengi mercenaries sprawled out of the pod. Two Cardassians were also among that group. Down a corridor, three Breen were confronted by a pair of Starfleet security officers. Phaser fire pinned them down, but they were quickly able to incapacitate them.

A pair of Ferengi broke into a storage room and placed miniature locator devices on two of the antimatter pods. The two pods then dematerialized.

Down in engineering, sh’Aqba and Tarlazzi were both working double shifts when the intruder alert sounded. They armed themselves with Type-2 hand phasers in the event the mercenaries stormed the deck. They took cover behind consoles on opposite sides of the section.

Four Nausicans squeezed out of an access hatch one at a time. Each one who entered began laying down suppression fire with their phaser rifles. Two armed engineers were incapacitated by phaser fire. At the same time, a group of Ferengi materialized on the catwalk in the warp core chamber. They laid down suppression fire. Sh’Aqba and Tarlazzi futilely fired their phasers at the intruders.

Two of the Ferengi continued firing as they climbed down the ladder. Tarlazzi lunged at the two of them from behind. He wrestled one to the ground, but the other fired, stunning the Rigellian. Sh’Aqba fired her phaser at the Ferengi getting back on his feet. The second Ferengi fired back, but sh’Aqba took cover under a console.

The Nausicans in engineering continued laying down cover fire while the Ferengi opened an access hatch containing one of the upgraded bio-neural gel-packs. They placed a locator tag on the gel-pack and beamed it away.

“Stop right there,” a voice called out. Limis and Morrison led a team that also included three other security officers, all of them armed with phaser rifles. The two Ferengi fired their rifles, knocking out one of the junior security guards. The officers still standing took cover against the walls on both sides. The intruders continued firing while backing into the core chamber. One of the Nausicans grabbed a communication device from underneath his right sleeve and they all dematerialized.

Limis’s security team moved outward towards the core chamber. Morrison kneeled down to attend to Tarlazzi. Limis and the other guards noticed sh’Aqba come out of from under a console. The Andorian then noticed an open access hatch and moved to investigate it. “They stole one of the gel-packs,” she said. “How’s Tarlazzi?”

“Alive,” Morrison answered. “We’d better get him to sickbay.”
Limis then tapped to comm badge to hail one of the other security teams. “Limis to Kozar. What’s our status.”

Kozar led a team of four MACO’s on Deck Nineteen. He tapped his comm badge in reply. “We’re moving towards Cargo Bay Four,” he called. “A group of Breen just beamed in there.”

Four Breen in the cargo bay were quickly opening containers and knocking them over when they did not have what they were looking for. The security party entered with phaser rifles firing. The Breen fired back with their rifles knocking out two of the MACO’s. The Breen then tagged a cargo container and dematerialized with it.

On the bridge, Sullivan sat in the first officer’s chair monitoring the freighter. A blip on the readout screen indicating the ship was moving away. “Bridge to the captain,” she said over the comm. “They’re moving off.”
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Old September 8 2009, 08:51 PM   #36
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Just finished catching up. Very nicely done. I like your characterizations as well as your pacing. Nicely done!
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Old September 15 2009, 07:02 PM   #37
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Three

Doctor Aurellan Markalis had more biobeds than patients in sickbay. The least critical cases lay on cots throughout the primary ICU. Two medical technicians, a human male and a Vulcan female attended to the patients on the secondary biobeds. Markalis, meanwhile, was attending to the most critical case on the main biobed.

Limis entered the sickbay, still armed with her phaser rifle, and walked over to Tarlazzi. “How are you?” she sternly asked.

“I’ve had worse phaser burns,” Tarlazzi responded. “I’ll live.”

“Just don’t make a habit of taking those kinds of chances with your life.’

“Yes, ma’am,” Tarlazzi replied, once again giving the military salute.

Markalis placed a sheet completely over the body of the patient on the main biobed, just as Limis sauntered over. “What about the others?” the captain asked.

“Most of them minor to moderate phaser wounds,” the doctor replied. “Crewman Jones didn’t make it.”

Logan walked into the sickbay to deliver a padd to the captain. Limis walked towards the door to get out of the doctor’s way. “I’m afraid the news isn’t good,” the engineer reported.

Limis grabbed the padd to read the list of stolen items for herself. “Ninety percent of our antimatter tanks,” she read aloud. “Eighteen bio-neural gel packs.” The list went on, but she saw no sense to reading the other stolen items aloud after seeing which of the most crucial of supplies were stolen. “That’s just great,” she sighed.

“We’re mostly down to the antimatter we have in the reactor,” Logan added. “Once it runs out, we’re dead in the water.”

Morrison then walked in, so Limis was expecting even more bad news. “We captured one of the raiders,” he reported. “He’s a Cardassian. And he’s in our brig now.”

“Why would a Cardassian be part of this raiding team?” Limis rhetorically asked.

Markalis passed between Limis and Morrison carrying a set of empty hyposprays. “Would you all mind taking this meeting somewhere else?” she asked. “I have patients to tend to.”

Limis nodded to direct the men out of sickbay, suddenly wondering why starship captains often conducted meetings in the room they happened to be in.

A petite middle-aged Cardassian stood in the cell of the brig. He tried to make idle conversation with the female security guard on duty. She showed very little interest in socializing with the prisoner. Limis paced into the brig area and stood in front of the cell. “You must be the captain,” the prisoner deduced. “I didn’t know Starfleet had any Bajoran captains.”

“I’m sure there’s a lot we don’t know about the Cardassian military,” Limis retorted. “So, who are you working for?”

“You’ve probably gone through this drill many times before,” the Cardassian cheerfully stated, taking a seat on the bench in the back of the cell. “Mirren, service number four two three seven violet. I serve the Founders in all things.”

“No, you don’t. The Founders send the Jem’Hadar to do their dirty work. Not Nausicans, Breen, or Ferengi. And certainly not a Cardassian civilian.”

“You wound me,” Mirren responded. Like most Cardassians, he tried to keep a sense of humor despite his incarceration. “If I am not a servant of the Founders, exactly who do I work for.”

“You’re probably with one of those criminal syndicates that goes around raiding passing starships.”

Mirren stood up and clapped three times. “Very good, Bajoran,” he smugly quipped. “You’re very well informed. Is this Starfleet’s usual interrogation technique? Ask me questions you already know the answers to in order to gauge how cooperative I will be, and to see how good of a liar I am.

“You know, my dear,” Mirren continued, walking closer to the forcefield. “If I was on Bajor, I’d be afraid for my life. I know of plenty of Bajorans still wanting retribution for Cardassian war crimes.”

“You admit to being a war criminal?” Limis asked.

“No,” Mirren sneered, rolling his eyes. “My point is, Bajorans learned a lot from my people during our occupation of your world. That uniform wouldn’t let you get away it. Starfleet prides itself as too civilized to torture prisoners.”

He had a point there. Starfleet does not torture its prisoners. But I wasn’t concerned with almighty Starfleet regulations. I was tempted that all time to smash his arrogant little face in. I didn’t want to show all my cards at that point yet.

A group of senior officers convened in the observation lounge to discuss what action to take next. Tarlazzi, Carson, and Ensign Willis Huckaby were also present comparing sensor data accumulated during the raid with Morrison and sh’Aqba. The biggest challenge was how to find the mercenary ship since the thieves had masked their ion trail. Tarlazzi provided information on how the Maquis masked their ion trails from the Cardassians, hoping that would provide some inspiration.

Limis sat at the head of the table, barely able to stay awake while moderating discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of possible plans. Kozar and Logan stood at the monitor screen on the opposite side of the room. Kozar handed a padd to Logan, who then stepped out through the door behind the monitor, before walking to the captain’s side.

“Logan is working on a way to conserve what’s left of our antimatter, and he should have some of the damaged systems up and running by morning,” the commander reported. “If you don’t mind my asking, sir, what is the point of going after these mercenaries? We’re hardly in a position to give chase.”

“Starfleet does not have the luxury of sending any other ships after mercenaries,” Limis explained. “Add to supply shortages, we have to be the ones to go after them. We have to send a message to these kinds of thieves that they won’t have free reign throughout Federation just because we are at war.”

“Understood,” Kozar answered with a nod. “But I would suggest you get some rest. We won’t come up with a solution overnight.”

“I’ll take your suggestion under advisement,” Limis replied, turning to face the rest of the officers in the room. Kozar walked away, but Tarlazzi’s attention was on the conversation between the captain and first officer.

“The first officer is actually right,” he told his friend. “You’re carrying the weight of the Alpha Quadrant on your shoulders.”

“That’s one of the short definitions of captain,” Limis quipped. She then stood to address the rest of the group. “Hopefully you can continue this without me. I’ll be in my quarters.” She then left the observation lounge through the entrance from the bridge.

Sara Carson later took her work to the mess hall. She was only one there this late at night. She stared at a padd containing the navigational data Rebecca had gathered during the raid. The caffeine from the coffee she drank had her staring at the padd, but unable to make sense of what was on it. She looked up from the padd to see Morrison enter the mess hall and order a raktajino from the replicator.

Sara then looked back at the padd hoping that Mandel would not notice her looking in his direction. They had communicated the misunderstanding they had after her near death experience. He was not interested in any kind of committed relationship, so they agreed to slow things down a bit. That he brought something like this up after they had sex, though, created a sense of awkwardness in their off-duty encounters.

“Lieutenant Commander,” Sara muttered as he walked by.

“Are we calling each other by our ranks now, Lieutenant?” Mandel asked. “You don’t look very busy.” He sat down next to her to look at the padd.

“I thought we could use the navigational deflector to detect the mercenary’s ion trail,” she said. “The caffeine is keeping me awake, but it’s not helping me think up a workable plan.”

“I remember detecting a subspace displacement field to throw off sensors originating from the ship,” said Morrison. “We might be able to discern a pattern in the saturation of those waves. But I would suggest you get some sleep so you can think more clearly.”

Carson then smiled wryly. “Would you care to join me?” she subtlety inquired.

“I like the way you think,” Morrison replied, smiling just as wryly. They grasped each other’s hands and kissed. The two stood up to move to a more private venue. Carson reached out her right hand to snare the padd as they headed for the exit.

Some hours later, Carson stepped off the bridge’s port turbolift while in the process of putting on her black and gray uniform tunic. Kozar immediately noticed two protocol violations on her part, also being late for her shift. She had the padd she was reviewing in tow. “You’re out of uniform, Lieutenant,” the first officer said sternly as he stood up from his chair. “You’re also five minutes late.”

“Nevertheless,” Carson replied, showing Kozar the padd, “I was able to extrapolate the mercenary’s course by way of residual electrons left by their subspace displacement field.”

Kozar turned his head to see Morrison exit the starboard turbolift. He was then able to deduce why the alpha shift flight controller was late. Morrison was the master of mixing business with pleasure since he and Kozar were roommates at the Academy. Sara Carson was just another one of Mandel’s conquests. “We’ll skip the court martial,” Kozar joked, looking back at Carson “And set a course that follows that trail.”

Carson assumed her station to program in the new course. Kozar then paced over to the tactical station to have a word with Morrison. “I’m not one to discourage fraternization with subordinates,” he whispered. “But make sure they are not late to their duty shifts.”

Who knows how many precious hours could have been saved if Carson had presented these findings sooner. Other than being five minutes late that morning, she did her duty to the letter, which is fly this ship for eight hours a day. Better late than never, many of us. Though Logan warned about the strain put on our engines, I felt we had to take a chance on going nine hours at high warp. We continued to follow the trail of the mercenary ship until it just stopped in the middle of nowhere.

Limis and Kozar assisted Carson in monitoring the ship’s course. Limis stood next to Carson at the conn to see that the ship’s course continued to match the trail the ship was following. Kozar and Ensign conferred at an auxiliary mission operations station to compare the course with Federation star charts. Kozar zoomed the section on display outward to see the ship was getting closer to the Romulan Star Empire. While the Romulans remained neutral in the war, Federation captains were still strongly advised to steer clear of the Neutral Zone.

“Captain,” Kozar called. “I should warn you that we’re now within a parsec of the Romulan Neutral Zone.”

“Then let’s hope our chase doesn’t lead us into Romulan space,” Limis replied. “We can’t afford to be fighting a war on two fronts.”

“This is strange,” Huckaby remarked from the primary operations station. “I’m reading a gap in the trail.”

“Any sign of the mercenaries?” Limis asked.

“No, sir,” the ensign replied.

“The trail resumes after two hundred million kilometers,” Carson added. “I can’t explain it.”

“Put the display on the viewscreen,” Limis requested so that all on the bridge could see what the two officers were monitoring.”

“Maybe stellar winds dispersed the particles,” Morrison suggested.

“There would still be some kind of particle traces,” Carson added. “I’m not picking up anything on my sensors.”

“Here’s something even more curious,” Huckaby reported. “The particle decay rate indicates these electrons were left here sixteen hours ago.” A circular representation of the particle residue on the viewscreen flashed in red. The display then advanced to the next graphic indicator. “And this one was left nine hours ago.”

“Take us out of warp near the end of the first trail,” Limis ordered.

The Lambda Paz slowed. The surrounding stars, which appeared as streaks of straight lines began to look more like single flashes of light. The ship drew closer to a large circular area of blackness with no stars. From one second to the next, a star field that surrounded the ship was replaced by a dark void.

The bridge rocked as it was being sucked into the void. The red alert klaxons began sounding automatically. “We’re losing inertial dampers,” Carson reported as the bridge continued shaking.

“See what you can muster from auxiliary power, Huckaby,” Kozar ordered the dark skinned ensign.

“Shields are failing,” Morrison added. “Micro-fractures are forming on the hull.”

The Lambda Paz began clear the void. The total darkness was then replaced by blinding light. Somehow, the ship had gone from entering a void completely dark to the surface of a star.
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Old September 17 2009, 04:06 AM   #38
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Four

Many of the bridge had to shield their eyes from what appeared. Huckaby turned down the brightness on the viewscreen, so that everyone could regain on their tasks at hand. “What did we just pass through?” Limis demanded, pacing over to the Ops station.

“You got me,” Carson sighed, trying to make sense of the endless stream of sensor data with which her display was being inundated.” She was just as anxious as the captain to get some answers and looked over at Huckaby.

“I’ll have to sort out all these readings later,” Huckaby answered. “But if I had to guess, I would think we just entered a Dyson Sphere.”

“Dyson Sphere?” Limis repeated.

“Named after Freeman Dyson,” Kozar explained. “In theory, such a structure could draw energy from a star, providing an almost endless source of power.”

“The sheer amount of raw material needed to build one of those things makes the idea highly impractical,” Huckaby added.

“I remember hearing about Dyson Spheres in a theoretical astrophysics course at the Academy,” Carson chimed in.
Limis nodded as if what her officers were saying now made sense. “I remember hearing the Enterprise rescued Scotty from transporter suspension seventy-five years after his transport crashed on a Dyson sphere. Is this one cloaked?”

“Unlikely,” Morrison responded keeping his focus on the sensor readings on his display. “I didn’t pick up any tachyon spikes while we were passing through… whatever that was.”

“No matter, that’s not important now,” Limis said. “Any sign of where the mercenaries may have gone?” she then asked Carson.

“I have fragments of their trail on my navigation sensors,” Carson answered. “Solar flares are making it difficult to completely detect.”

“Another good reason hide here,” Kozar retorted, sauntering over to the tactical station. “Mandel, did the shipyard crews get around to installing metaphasic shielding.”

Morrison entered a few commands into his console. A file on metaphasic shielding then appeared on the display screen. “Lucky us,” he answered. “Activating now.”

“That should protect us for a while,” Kozar explained to the captain. “Hopefully, it’ll hold for as long as we need to be here.”

“I have something on sensors that may be of help,” “Huckaby reported.

Limis and Kozar walked over to operations station to hear what the ensign had to say. “This sphere is constructed of a poly-duranium alloy,” he told them. “I’m reading a monotanium hull alloy just like the mercenary ship at bearing nine-five mark two-zero-five.”

“Conn, set a course,” Limis commanded.

The Lambda Paz arched upwards towards the interior hull of the Dyson Sphere. It soon came across a craft the size of an escape pod docked along the interior of the hull. “Sounds like a good starting point,” Limis suggested. “Prepare an away team, Kozar.”

“Aye, sir,” Kozar replied. “Morrison, assemble a security team. Kozar to sh’Aqba, report to the transporter bay with an engineering team.” He and Morrison then stepped onto the starboard turbolift.

Kozar, Morrison, sh’Aqba, and Tarlazzi materialized, knees slightly inside the small pod that did not leave much standing room. Two human male security officers were behind them. Sh’Aqba upholstered her tricorder and then entered a few commands into the single seat piloting station to transmit information into tricorder translated into Federation standard. “This appears to be a cargo pod,” she reported. “The cargo holds are below here. Whatever cargo was in them was transported out roughly fifteen hours ago.”

“Any idea what was transported?” Kozar inquired.

“The transport logs were wiped afterward,” the Andorian answered.

“We should probably take our chances in the habitat this thing is docked at,” Tarlazzi suggested.

“Agreed,” said Morrison, upholstering his Type-2 hand phaser. He then looked over at the two security guards. “Set phasers to cut through the hatch.”

The two other security officers compliantly pulled out their phasers and began firing at the ceiling hatch. Within two minutes, the six-person team was inside an artificial habitat of the Dyson Sphere.

The team made its way through a circular hatch in the floor one at a time. The Starfleet officers then tiptoed quietly through a dark corridor. The metal walls showed signs of age from the large rust patches. Live wires protruded from the walls, the ceiling, and the deck. The away team had to walk slowly in order to avoid accidental contact with those wires.

Kozar, Morrison, and sh’Aqba had tricorders out to scan for the locator beacon most Starfleet property. If the alien thieves had known of such technology, they could have easily removed the devices in order assure the pilfered equipment could not be found. That was all they had to go on, though, as the crew was not afforded the time of formulating a rough schematic of the sphere and its artificial habitats. “It’s like a haunted house,” Morrison commented.

“Haunted house?” sh’Aqba asked, not familiar with the antiquated Earth term.

“Old Earth mythology,” Kozar explained. “An old abandoned house is often believed to be haunted by demonic spirits.”

“Something modern science has disproved,” Tarlazzi chimed in.

“Nevertheless, this place gives me the creeps,” Morrison replied.

“This almost seems too easy,” Kozar mused.

The tricorder scans led the team into a large storage room. It looked to have to been ransacked with containers knocked on their sides. A set of upright containers filled the center of the cargo hold. Kozar raised a hand signaling the rest of the team to stay, and then nodded to Morrison to accompany him to the cargo containers. Kozar opened one of the containers to reveal Starfleet ration packs. “This looks like our stuff,” he said.

A particle burst struck the wall behind Morrison just below the ceiling. Morrison quickly jerked his head to the right. “Ambush!” he called out.

The rest of the team took cover behind the cargo containers. A Romulan peered out through a doorway on the opposite end of the cargo hold, firing his phaser again. He was wore a light gray jumpsuit rather than a military uniform. Two other Romulan civilians entered the hold firing projectile phaser rifles. Morrison was then able to notice the brow ridges that distinguished Romulans from most other Vulcanoid races. “Romulans?” he wondered aloud.

“We’ll worry about their involvement in this later,” Kozar replied, firing his phaser at their assailants.

Two of the Romulans continued to lay down cover fire while the one on the right made his way around the set of containers. Tarlazzi turned to his right and fell down on his back to fire his fire his phaser stunning the Romulan. The one Romulan who was armed with a small pistol climbed onto the top of the containers to lunge at the officers. He jumped Morrison, knocking his phaser out of his hand. The Romulan pointed his pistol at Morrison’s head, but the two junior guards stunned him with their phaser rifles.

The third Romulan who was still standing darted towards the Starfleet team. A dagger he was holding as he charged towards them grazed sh’Aqba in her left shoulder. She quickly fell over and Kozar lunged at the attacker. The Romulan quickly broke free. The dagger sliced through Kozar’s left wrist. Morrison then fired his phaser, stunning the last attacker.

Tarlazzi and the guards helped sh’Aqba to sit back up while Morrison walked over to Kozar. “The knife just grazed me,” sh’Aqba lied.

“You should still have Doctor Markalis look at it,” Tarlazzi replied.

Morrison ripped part of the left cuff of his gold inner tunic to apply a tourniquet to Kozar’s wound. “It looks superficial,” the commander insisted.

“We shouldn’t take any chances with it though,” Morrison replied.

“Tarlazzi,” Kozar called to the Rigellian. “Set up the transport enhancers.”

Tarlazzi slid rods from the case he had been carrying and handed them off to the two guards. The three rods were placed around the cargo containers. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” said Kozar, tapping his combadge. “Kozar to Lambda Paz. Energize.”

The away team and the cargo containers then dematerialized.

Over the next several hours, other away teams consisting of engineering and security personnel transported to the sphere habitat to locate more of the missing equipment. These teams encountered similar resistance from trios of Romulans. Kozar’s team, meanwhile, reported to Captain Limis in the observation lounge for debriefing after routine medical exams in sickbay. While en route sickbay to the briefing room, Kozar again questioned the captain’s decision to engage in such a risky endeavor. He had the same concerns about going off a wild goose chase to retrieve stolen equipment, especially now that Romulans were involved.

“I’ve mentioned how Starfleet is dealing with supply and manpower shortages,” Limis reiterated, as they stepped into a turbolift heading for the bridge. “Deck one,” she ordered the lift’s computer.

“Besides,” the captain continued, “in the Maquis, we put ourselves in greater danger nabbing technology that did not belong to us.”

Lieutenant Commander Morrison and Lieutenant sh’Aqba were already in the observation lounge when the captain and first officer arrived. The two subordinate officers were comparing notes regarding personnel from their respective departments available for away mission duty. Limis and Kozar sauntered in and stood at the head of the table. “What’s our status?” the captain asked.

“We have security and engineering teams aboard the sphere to find the rest of our equipment,” sh’Aqba responded. “Commander Logan is staying aboard to supervise repairs. He should have warp drive online in thirty minutes.”

Limis nodded approvingly, and then looked to Morrison. “Major Davis is leading the MACO’s in case the teams encounter further resistance,” the second officer stated. “The question is what the Romulans have to gain from all this.”

“They’re probably not affiliated with the Dominion,” Kozar offered. “The Romulan Empire signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. They’re neutral.”

“Admiral Ross relayed a message to me from Starfleet Intelligence,” Limis added. “Various criminal syndicates have raiding starships for the latest technological innovations. With the Maquis mostly out of the picture, these mercenaries have to turn to organized crime groups. The Romulans’ stake in this is probably to feel out both sides of the war to see who is a greater threat to their interests.”

“The teams did find equipment that was clearly beyond Romulan technological capabilities,” said sh’Aqba. “The science labs are analyzing it now.”

“Anything else about the Dyson Sphere?” the captain asked the engineer. “This is an interesting archeological find, worthy of extensive study if we weren’t in the middle of a war."

“According to Ensign Makassa,” Kozar replied, in reference to the gamma-shift operations officer, “the quantum scans indicate this thing is almost two hundred thousand years old.”
“How did they conceal it if isn’t using cloaking technology?” Limis asked.

“From what we can gather from the all the sensor data,” Morrison replied, “whoever built it took a pocket of subspace and folded over the sphere.”

“Too bad we can’t stay here and study it further,” the captain lamented. “Keep me posted on your progress, people. Dismissed.”

The other officers left leaving Limis to mull over the implications of stumbling across such ancient, but advanced technology. In the wrong hands, this Dyson Sphere could cause disaster, especially if the Dominion learned of it.

As much as my first officer second-guessed my decision to go after the thieves and go to such risky lengths to take back our pilfered equipment, I knew I made the right choice. After that debriefing, I learned of a breakthrough that would be of major importance. I’m an agnostic, but I would still say that the Prophets were pointing me in the right direction.

Markalis called Limis into the main science lab. She had been analyzing one of the mystery devices the away teams brought aboard. The science officers on duty worked tirelessly to get some idea on what purpose it served. The doctor had quickly discovered something that she thought the captain would consider important.

“From what we can tell, this device is designed to analyze and identify various types of microorganisms,” Markalis explained to the captain upon the older woman’s arrival. “It is unlike any medical technology Starfleet has. I can also break down those microorganisms into their base elements.” Markalis handed Limis a padd containing a set of complicated chemical formulas.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Limis replied. “You’ll have to give me the short version.”

“Tri-nucleic fungi can be broken down into yridium bicantizine,” the doctor answered. “It’s an active ingredient in ketracel white.”

“Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?” Limis asked with a grin.

“I’ve observed that Starfleet officers feel a need to impress their captains with their excellent reasoning skills,” Markalis explained. For the first time that Limis could remember since coming aboard the Lambda Paz, Markalis smiled.

A light went on Limis’s mind. This was superior Dominion technology, meaning the mercenaries who raided her ship also stole Dominion technology. If that was the case, then the Cardassian in the brig would have some idea as to the location of a ketracel-white manufacturing plant. Having once been a resistance fighter, Limis engaged in other lines of work as a cover profession. Perhaps Mirren’s cover profession was working in a ketracel-white manufacturing plant.

Limis then headed straight for the brig and dismissed the guard on duty. Mirren was taking a light nap, so he immediately sat up on the bench upon the captain’s arrival. “You got your stuff back without my help,” he said with that wry smirk Limis had become familiar with during their last exchange. “Here to let me go.”

“Your group stole equipment from a ketracel-white manufacturing plant. Where is it?”

Mirren shook his head, attempting to feign ignorance of the Bajoran was talking about. “I don’t know of any ketracel-white plant,” he confidently insisted.

You’re lying!” Limis sneered. She entered a few commands into the wall panel to the left of the cell shutting off the forcefield. She then upholstered her phaser and pointed it at the prisoner. “Get up!” she insisted.

When Mirren did not comply, Limis grabbed him by the collar to force the Cardassian upright. She then dragged him out of the cell and out into the corridor. The human male guard assigned to detention cell overnight had been waiting outside the brig, and he gazed in wonder at the captain was planning. Further down the corridor, a passing human female officer passed by and stopped in her tracks staring in awe. “As you were, Ensign,” Limis said.

“Where are you taking me?” Mirren rhetorically asked. “Your torture chamber?”

“I’m going to get that information out of you any way I can,” Limis cryptically replied.

“Like I said before, Starfleet is too civilized to torture.”
They arrived at an airlock where Limis opened the door and shoved the prisoner inside. After closing the door again, she peered through the small transparent aluminum window. “This airlock can decompress in forty seconds,” she said. “Tell me what I want to know.”

Mirren chuckled, thinking Limis was making a cruel joke. Limis then pressed a button to the right of the door, cutting off the oxygen. “The ketracel-white plant,” she demanded, gritting her teeth.

Morrison and two security guards arrived on the scene while the captain and the prisoner stared each other down. “Captain,” he said.

“Everything is under control, Morrison,” Limis replied.

Morrison could not believe his eyes when he saw the readout on the airlock control panel. “The airlock is decompressing,” he said. “He’ll die.”

“Not for another twenty seconds he won’t,” Limis responded without looking away from Mirren. “Where is the ketracel-white manufacturing plant?”

Mirren began gasping for breath. “Say again,” Limis taunted.
With five seconds left before the airlock completely decompressed, Limis recompressed it and opened the door. Mirren sprawled out, falling to the deck while gasping for air. “Sector…” he gasped. “Sector four-nine-seven.” Mirren suddenly began choking.

The two kneeled down to attend to the Cardassian as he was lapsing into unconsciousness. Limis tapped her combadge to signal the transporter room. “Transporter room,” she said, “lock onto our Cardassian prisoner and beam him to sickbay.” Mirren then dematerialized.
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Old September 17 2009, 10:44 PM   #39
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Five

Mirren’s lifeless body lay on the main biobed in sickbay. The Vulcan nurse placed a cardio-stimulator on the patient’s chest hoping to revive him. Doctor Markalis entered commands into the biobed’s surgical scanner to administer electrical pulses from the stimulator. The scan indicating Mirren’s vital signs indicated a flat line even after each pulse. “Again,” the doctor ordered after each pulse.

No change registered on the EKG readout. After five pulses at the highest intensity, the doctor gave up. “I’m sorry,” she said, lowering her head dejectedly. “I did everything to try to save him. Everything I could. But he’s dead. I’m very sorry.”
“I know you did everything,” Limis replied. “It’s my fault. How did it happen.”

Markalis looked straight ahead and walked over to Limis. “Cardassian physiology is adapted to a thinner atmosphere on their home planet,” she said in a dispassionate monotone voice. “The air pressure calibrations on Starfleet ships bombarded his respiratory system. Like frostbite, you have to warm the affected area slowly. Otherwise, the sudden blood could lead to potentially fatal damage.”

In my youth, I would have said that Mirren was just a Cardassian. When I was recruited into the Resistance. I hated all Cardassians and wanted them all dead. As I got older, I was able to temper that hatred and think in more pragmatic terms. Each death that I caused made a little of me die.

There are rules even in war. And I condemned a sentient being, not to mention a noncombatant to his death. I was ready to face the music.

Limis sat in her ready room the next morning reading daily status reports when Kozar and Morrison paid her a visit. The first officer had given her a hard time about minor violations of protocol since her first day on the job. Limis immediately sensed that Kozar would throw the proverbial book at her on even more serious violations of regulations.

“Mister Morrison told me what happened last night,” Kozar matter-of-factly stated.

Limis looked up to see the chief of security also present. “Why do I get the feeling you’re going to gang up on me?” she inquired.

“Before we left space dock,” Kozar stated, “Admiral Jellico contacted me.”

Limis felt that Kozar saw her as an obstacle to the starship captaincy he had been seeking since his tour on the Horatio Nelson. She stood up assuming he would hesitate to use this latest situation to push her out of the way. “What are you saying?” she asked, standing up.

“Captain Limis,” Kozar proclaimed, “I hereby relieve you of your command under Starfleet Regulation 104, Section C.”

“That regulation only applies to a CO judged physically and mentally unfit. Can Doctor Markalis certify that with a full medical examination?”

“Admiral Jellico told me she doesn’t need to. He granted me expanded autonomy which I am now using.”

Kozar then turned to Morrison. “Mister Morrison,” he said. “Please escort the captain to her quarters and confine her there.”

Morrison walked around the desk to carry out that command. “I’m sorry, Captain,” he said apologetically. “If you’ll come with me.”

“She’s all yours, Captain,” Limis sneered at Kozar on her way out of the ready room.

For sure, my short Starfleet career was over. While the Cardies may argue that the ends justify the means, Starfleet and the Federation have very little tolerance for mistreating prisoners. Despite the intense guilt I felt over Mirren’s death, I felt in the back of my mind such actions would help turn the tide in this war. The JAG office wouldn’t have seen it that way and I was prepared to accept. But five days later, something happened to change all that.

Vice Admiral William Ross sat at his desk reviewing the latest casualty reports from the Tyra System. The hardest part about reading these reports was looking over the names of those who were unaccounted for. So many ships were lost in these battle, so the families of those missing people were left in limbo on whether they were dead or alive. He welcomed any kind of distraction from this difficult duty, which came in the form of his office door chiming. “Yes,” he called.

Rear Admiral Edward Jellico entered holding up a padd. “What’s the meaning of this, Bill?” he asked, raising it.

“I beg your pardon?” Ross innocently answered.

Jellico entered a command on the padd to call up the relevant information. “”On the recommendation of Vice-Admiral William Ross’,” he said, reading the contents, “’no disciplinary action will be taken against Captain Limis Vircona at this time.’ Why the hell not?”

“She was able to acquire vital information that could give us even a minor victory,” Ross stated, rising from his chair, “which our troops could certainly use right about now.”

“She tortured a man, and he died soon afterward,” Jellico snapped back.

Ross took a few deep breaths to keep this discussion from becoming a knockdown-drag out shouting match. He then circled around the desk and sat in one of the guest chairs. “I didn’t expect this kind of reaction from you, Ed,” he said, calmly. “Your style of command is one that demands results. You’ve had plenty of dealings with the Cardassians during your career.

“This is war, Ed. We can’t be distracted with penalizing someone for a petty violation of protocol.”

“’Petty violation of protocol’?” Jellico repeated, sitting in the other guest chair. “That’s what you call torturing a man? By letting this slide, you’re basically giving all Starfleet CO’s unlimited freedom to use whatever methods they may deem necessary. And to blazes with the Seldonis Four Convention.”

Stardate 51196.32

Limis Vircona sat in behind the desk of the ready room sipping whiskey from a shot glass. As a result of Ross’s recommendation, her command was reinstated. The downside was Limis witnessed the Battle of the Tyra System, where nearly a hundred ships were lost to the Jem’Hadar. While awaiting full damage reports, Limis retired to her ready room to reflect on the events that led to the death of that Cardassian. The cataclysmic confrontation she had just brought her back to that incident. Would the information obtained through such extreme measures culminate in a reversal of a demoralizing trend?

“I was off the hook,” Limis stated in her personal log. “I’ll bet Jellico was furious. Kozar was not too happy either. He said the JAG office was setting a ‘dangerous precedent.’ As much as I wanted to gloat, we was right. At some point, we have to be willing to stand on principle. Even if we do defeat the Dominion, they’ll still achieve a philosophical victory if we started to behave too much like them.

“Even so, I have done things I am not proud of. I sold sexual favors to high-ranking Cardassian military operatives. I killed more Cardassians than I would care to count, including civilians either to achieve mission objectives or in acts of petty revenge. People die in war, and Mirren is just one more casualty of war. I may hate myself for some of the horrible things I have done. But I can learn to live with that guilt.”

Limis stood up from her desk, paced over to the replicator, and ordered another shot of whiskey. After downing it in one gulp, she returned to the desk. “Computer,” she said stoically, “erase that entire personal log.”

Two weeks after the Battle of Tyra, Admiral Ross sent Captain Benjamin Sisko and the senior officers of the USS Defiant on daring mission into the heart of Dominion territory using the information Limis had obtained by way of torturing and inadvertently killing Mirren. Using a captured Jem’Hadar fighter, Sisko and his crew were able to destroy the ketracel-white manufacturing plant, putting the enemy in a difficult conundrum for months with its supply line to the cut off.
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Old November 5 2009, 10:24 PM   #40
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Historians Note: The main storyline takes place during the week between the events of "Sacrifice of Angels" and "You Are Cordially Invited…"

Chapter One
Captain’s Log, Stardate 51241.3: The Lambda Paz is docked at Deep Space 9 for repairs, following the successful Operation: Return. With a lull in the fighting, my crew is enjoying some much-needed time off before returning to the front lines.

One of the hardest duties of Starfleet officer was ordering his or her crew to their deaths. Limis was put in that position during her time in the Bajoran resistance and in the Maquis. On numerous occasions, she questioned whether the causes those groups fought for were worth laying down the lives of her cohorts. While not a believer in the Prophets, the mysterious non-corporeal beings inside the Wormhole, like most Bajorans, Limis did find solace in memorializing those who had made the ultimate sacrifice as a reminder that they were people and not machines.

Nearly two dozen crewmembers gathered in the forward most section of the ship’s saucer section to say their goodbyes to those who lost their lives in the four months since the Dominion War began. From the destructive Siege of Sector 21607, where Starfleet was lured into a Dominion ambush, to the Betreka Nebula counterstrike, designed to divert enemy forces from the battle to retake Deep Space Nine, the Lambda Paz had suffered heavy casualties among its officers and crew.

Captain Limis Vircona, Commander Ronnie Kozar, Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison, and Commander Chaz Logan stood before the front viewport wearing full dress uniforms. Among the others present was Shinar sh’Aqba, Erhlich Tarlazzi, Rebecca Sullivan, Sara Carson, and Aurellan Markalis.

“Since this war began,” Limis proclaimed, “we have lost so many ships and so many lives. But our cause in battling the forces of tyranny and oppression remains a just one. It is important that we remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. We are gathered here today to honor their memories.”

A procession of caskets exited the ship from the forward torpedo launchers. They were accompanied by a shuttle escort on both sides. Kozar then began to read the names of the deceased on a padd in the order their caskets were ejected.

“Nowitzki. Hayes. Mitchell. Prieto. Hawkins. Jones. Compton. Sonak. Yar. Grabowski. Monroe. Tomlinson. Hawk. Branson. Th’Ralt. T’Mirra. Davis. Munoz. Kaplan”

“From the stars we came,” said Limis, “and to the stars we shall return.”

For the first time in as long as he could remember, Quark was actually glad to see his establishment on Deep Space 9 crowded with Starfleet officers.

During the four months when the station was under Dominion control, the Ferengi admitted while drunk that he missed the Federation. Though Federation and Ferengi values were in conflict, Quark found he preferred Starfleet over the Dominion and the Cardassians.

He personally delivered the beverages ordered by three members of the Lambda Paz crew. Commander Ronnie Kozar, Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison, and Lieutenant junior grade Sara Carson sat at a table near the bar and to the right of the Dabo wheel. Morrison took a sip of his alcoholic beverage before looking over at Kozar, seated on the other side of the table. “So where do you think we’re going next?” he matter-of-factly asked his friend.

“I’d rather not think about that for the next few days,” Kozar sighed before taking a sip of his beverage.

Carson, seated at Morrison’s right, smacked her lover’s arm with the back of her left hand. “Can’t you have you think of something other than work for one minute?”

“I disobeyed orders to save your life,” Morrison retorted.

“That’s fair,” Carson replied. She then looked away from both men while rolling her eyes.

Kozar still knew that incident was a topic Carson was not comfortable with. After her shuttle crash-landed on a planetoid during their ship’s maiden voyage, the captain decided to lead an away team to locate Carson and her copilot. In the midst of a firefight with the Jem’Hadar, Limis decided to abandon the rescue, but Morrison went off to save Carson anyway.

That incident was Ronnie’’s first clue about the nature of Mandel’s relationship with Sara. He did not know for sure until one morning when they were late for their duty shifts. “So, what is the nature of your relationship?” he asked them.

“We haven’t exactly defined it just yet,” Mandel stated. “We’re taking it slowly.”

“We’re just two people who enjoy each other’s company,” Carson added.

Kozar smirked as if he didn’t buy what the two of them were a saying.

Carson looked over the table at the floor hearing a humming noise. She did not hear it until a lull in the conversation. And it was getting louder. “Do you hear that?”

Kozar turned his head to listen for the noise to which Carson was referring. “Yes,” Kozar answered. “It’s like a humming noise.”

Kozar and Carson both stood up and slowly tiptoed towards the source of the noise. The hum was then replaced by a swishing noise. Morrison stood up and knocked over the table in the process of tackling his two colleagues. A fireball erupted from the floor. Most of the debris that accompanied the explosion caught Morrison, as all three of them were knocked unconscious.
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Old November 9 2009, 09:28 PM   #41
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Two

The three injured officers were referred to the station’s infirmary. Lambda Paz chief medical officer Aurellan Markalis tended to Kozar and Carson, who had minor injuries, in the main exam room. The doctor applied a dermal regenerator to a cut on Carson’s forehead. At the reclined patient chair, a Bajoran female nurse applied a hypospray to Kozar’s neck.

“You suffered minor injuries, Lieutenant,” Markalis told Carson. “You’re free to go now.”

“How is Commander Morrison?” Carson asked.

“He suffered multiple shrapnel wounds from what I’m told,” Markalis demurely replied. “Doctor Bashir is treating him, but he should be fine.”

“How chivalrous of him,” Carson quipped.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Kozar offered. “He saved me as well.”

“Heroic then?” Carson suggested.

“He did his job,” Markalis stated, “to assure the safety of his fellow officers.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Carson muttered rolling her eyes.

Carson walked into the primary intensive care unit adjacent to the main waiting area where station CMO Julian Bashir tended to Morrison. The security chief lay face down so the doctor could treat the wounds where he absorbed the shrapnel. Bashir used a set of tweezers to remove each bit of shrapnel from Morrison’s bare back.

“You were fortunate that none of these bits hit a vital organ,” Julian stated. He then sarcastically added, “You should be a little more careful looking out for the safety of your fellow officers.”

After removing each piece of metal debris, Bashir applied a dermal regenerator to the flesh wounds. The process took about five minutes. Carson watched at the entrance to stay out of the doctor’s way. Once finished, Bashir entered some notes into a main console. “I suggest taking the next few days off,” he said.

“Will that affect our holosuite visit?” Carson asked, slowly walking towards the biobed. “I’d hate for us to have to cancel it with our ship having no holodecks.”

Morrison grinned while sitting up. He then grabbed a gray sleeveless tank top and put it on. “I’m sure that won’t be a problem,” he said, “as long as I don’t have to knock my fellow officers out of the way of more explosions.”

Both exchanged smirks. Morrison then grabbed his gold tunic and black and gray uniform jacket, and the couple bolted out the door. “You’re dismissed, Commander,” Bashir jokingly muttered without looking away from his console.

Quark sat in the security office acting befuddled as he always did whenever his nemesis Security Chief Odo brought him in for questioning. For almost nine years, Odo was obsessed with finding a reason to throw the Ferengi entrepreneur in jail, even for something as little as failure to conform to safety regulations. “I must protest, Constable,” he innocently stated. “Surely my contributions to the resistance during the Dominion’s occupation entitles me to some benefit of the doubt.”

“It wasn’t the first time you’ve tried to ingratiate yourself hoping we’d look the other way for awhile,” Odo sternly replied, while partially seated at the front of the desk. “We’ve had this conversation a few times before. You neglect much needed maintenance until someone gets hurt, and you end up having to pay a small fine.”

The usual banter between the two adversaries was interrupted when Captain Limis entered the security office, accompanied by Morrison. “Security Chief Odo,” she said, “Captain Limis Vircona of the Lambda Paz. This is my head of security, Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison.”

Odo immediately knew that Limis was going ask about his progress in the investigation. Although he was answerable to the station commander (whether that was Gul Dukat or Captain Sisko), he preferred a high degree autonomy when conducting a major investigation. He did not care for having to deal with Starfleet bureaucrats; especially those who he felt were trying to usurp his authority.

“No,” he said, “I don’t have any leads so far, Captain. Besides, this does not concern you. It is a matter of station security.”

“Three of my officers were injured in that explosion,” Limis shot back. “That makes it my concern.”

Odo sighed and walked behind his desk. “Quark, you’re free to go,” he announced.

Quark leapt up out of his chair. “Feel free to ask for my help in finding whoever is responsible for the loss of business today,” he said to Limis before walking out of the office. Odo grinned, seeing right through the façade.

“And, Captain,” Odo continued, “I will let you know of any leads I come across.”

“I will be functioning as Captain Limis’s liaison in this investigation,” Morrison stated.

“As long you understand this is my investigation, Commander,” Odo replied.

Morrison nodded an approval. “That shouldn’t be a problem,” Limis said, looking at Morrison. Then to Odo, she said in reference to her deceased Maquis colleague Michael Eddington, who served as DS9’s head of Starfleet security (assigned by Starfleet because they didn’t trust Odo) prior to his defection, “I’ve heard from Michael how you prefer to operate. So what do you have so far?”

“Chances are this incident is not as simple as Quark not keeping up with his maintenance schedule,” Odo replied. “I keep him in check though. Given the damage inflicted on the station at the end of the Occupation five years ago, we may have stumbled on another Cardassian booby trap.”

“This time, however, the Cardassians had far less time to evacuate,” Morrison offered.

“That’s true,” said Odo. “But I’ve learned never to underestimate Cardassian ingenuity. It could’ve been something that was lying dormant for many years.”

“Keep me posted on your progress then,” Limis said to both chiefs of security, before walking out of the office.

Lieutenant Shinar sh’Aqba crawled through a Jeffries Tube to make investigate a power fluctuation. This layover at Deep Space Nine, which had been seized by the Dominion four months earlier and then just returned to Federation control, was hardly for her and most of the engineering crew. A number of crewmembers were away on shore leave, and so the senior most engineering officers had extra repair and maintenance work. Granted, station chief of operations Miles O’Brien could spare members of his crews to lend a hand. However, those engineers were not entirely familiar with the latest technological innovations the Lambda Paz featured.

Lieutenant junior grade Erhlich Tarlazzi, the Rigellian assistant engineer was working on an access panel down the tube. Sh’Aqba’s eyes widened as if he was not supposed to be there, and she moved towards him faster. “You do not have authorization to work in this area, Lieutenant,” she said calmly, but sternly.

Tarlazzi looked at his Andorian superior with a smirk. “I’m a member of this crew,” he answered. “That’s authorization enough, isn’t it?”

“Maintenance on the navigational sensors is not on today’s assignment roster,” sh’Aqba explained. “You should have checked with me or Commander Logan before making changes in scheduling.”

“Relax, Lieutenant,” Tarlazzi said with a chuckle. “I didn’t do any harm.”

“On the contrary,” sh’Aqba responded, crawling over to look at Tarlazzi’s work,” I scheduled a warp engine diagnostic for this morning while you were re-routing power. We have lost hours of work because of this.”

“When you put it that way,” Tarlazzi quipped.

“You are, of course, still in on the job training,” said sh’Aqba. “But your cavalier attitude worries me, Mister Tarlazzi.”
Sh’Aqba’s right antenna turned slightly. While not looking directly at Tarlazzi, her quadroscopic vision, supplied by her antennae, sensed that Tarlazzi’s skin had flushed and his pupils had dilated. She quickly dismissed what her mind was telling her. “You’re dismissed, Lieutenant,” she said harshly.
“Yes, ma’am,” Tarlazzi replied, before crawling down the tube.

Elim Garak was once again the only Cardassian residing on Deep Space 9. Unlike the end of half-century long Cardassian occupation of Bajor five years earlier, the return of the station to Starfleet control this time around seemed like a smoother transition. Much of the station’s Federation and Bajoran population had initially been suspicious of the Cardassian who owned a tailor shop on the Promenade. He had done much over those years to assuage those suspicions, although he was more comfortable not being trusted.

One remaining reason for suspicion was that he did not want a security escort to accompany, given that many Bajorans and Cardassians had wanted him dead. His own father and former mentor had hired an assassin to eliminate him three years earlier, but he remained tight-lipped to station personnel investigating the attempt on his life. He paced through the corridors of the habitat ring of the station. A hooded man who bumped into him from behind sidetracked him. “Pardon me,” the man mumbled, while looking down at the floor.

The hooded man’s brick red robe piqued Garak’s curiosity, as the man’s clothing looked vaguely familiar. As an agent of the Cardassian intelligence agency the Obsidian Order, he had used the trick of pretending to bump into someone he and his fellow were keeping track of. He turned a corner and saw the hooded man who passed him. Two other men were with him, wearing the same brick red robes with large hoods on their heads. They all had their faces covered with peach colored masks.

Garak had heard of a Bajoran extremist group whose undercover operatives had dressed in this manner. Its numbers had diminished, however, four years earlier when evidence was revealed that the Cardassians had sponsored its attempt to rid Bajor of all foreign influences. “May I help you, gentleman?” Garak asked in a humorous tone.

The man in the center of group took two slow steps closer to Garak. “The Prophets say this is a holy time,” he rasped. “B'tanay, the time of awakening. Return to that dark place where all life springs. Mind awakens and focuses on its task. Pagh’tem’far b’tanay.”

Pagh’tem’far b’tanay,” the other two masked men repeated in unison.

“I seem to have taken a wrong turn,” Garak replied. “Carry on.”

Garak turned around and began to walk away when two of the masked men grabbed him by both arms, and then pushed him against a wall. One of the men punched Garak in the jaw sending him to the floor. The mysterious assailants then held the Cardassian down while the third masked man moved towards them. He took a cylindrical device out of his pocket and jammed it against Garak’s forehead.

Down the corridor, Mandel Morrison stepped off the turbolift and saw what taking place. He tapped his combadge to call for reinforcements. “Security to the habitat ring, level four, section five-three alpha,” he called. He then ran towards the fracas and bowled into one of Garak’s attackers. The masked assailant threw Morrison aside. He stood up and ran off with the other two masked men.

Morrison quickly got back on his feet to check on Garak. The Cardassian slowly sat up feeling blood trickling down the side of his mouth. Two Bajoran Militia security deputies stepped off the turbolift with phasers in hand. They immediately upholstered once they saw Morrison attending to Garak.

“Are you all right?” Morrison asked Garak.

“I’m fine,” Garak replied, feeling his spot on his forehead where he was branded.
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Old November 11 2009, 03:42 AM   #42
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Three
In the Infirmary’s main exam room, Doctor Bashir held a dermal regenerator to left side of Garak’s mouth where one of the masked men punched him. Odo, Limis, and Morrison gathered around discussing the latest incident. Limis had heard of her security chief’s latest heroics.

She was even more curious as to why a group of extremists opposed to Bajor’s entry into the Federation was again wreaking havoc on Deep Space Nine. For years, she did not care for the Federation very much. She and fellow colonists on Volan Three were left to fend for themselves after the Federation signed a treaty with the Cardassian Union ceding that planet to the Cardassians. Then that same Federation condemned the actions of the Maquis, fearing that the anti-Cardassian terrorist group would jeopardize the peace.

Opposition to the Federation was fairly common amongst her fellow Bajorans shortly after the end of the Cardassian occupation. In fact, one such group opposed to Bajor’s membership in the Federation nearly succeeded in overthrowing the government and driving off the Starfleet presence on the station. The Circle, as it was called in those days, quickly lost credibility once evidence was uncovered that the Cardassians had provided its members with weapons through a third party.

The benefits of Federation membership became much clearer to the people in subsequent years. Bajor would have become a Federation member a year earlier if not for Captain Benjamin Sisko’s cryptic warning that Bajor would be destroyed unless it stood alone. In spite of a non-aggression pact Bajor signed with the Dominion to assure the planet’s safety during the Dominion War, a very large majority of the Bajoran people knew that eventual Federation membership was still preferable the oppressive rule of the Dominion and its Cardassian allies.

“I’m just as curious as well,” Garak stated. “If these xenophobic Bajorans wanted to send a message by attacking a Cardassian, surely they’d have gone after Gul Dukat when they had the chance.”

Odo scoffed. When Garak was first exiled to the station, very little was known of him outside of his seeming cover profession as a tailor. His contributions to Starfleet since the beginning of the Dominion War disabused many of the station’s residents of the notion that he was a spy. This was not Garak’s signature insistence of being a “simple tailor.” “For once, you’re right, Garak,” the constable stated.

“Besides that,” Limis added, “the Circle has not taken these kinds of actions in four years. Their numbers have declined since their coup failed. And Federation membership will just be a formality.”

“Assuming the Federation wins the war,” Odo replied. “In the meantime, Bajor’s non-aggression pact with the Dominion only guarantees the planet’s safety during the war. Perhaps some of your countrymen are dissatisfied with the Federation, especially now that it has taken back control of DS9.”

Bashir, meanwhile, had successfully removed the tattooed insignia of the Circle from Garak’s forehead. “There,” the doctor declared. “Good as new.”

Garak stood up from the reclining examination chair. “How do I look, Captain?” he jovially asked Limis.

“Like a credit to your race, Mister Garak,” Limis half-heartedly responded. She nodded to Morrison for him to accompany her as sauntered out of the infirmary.

Garak instinctively felt his forehead at the former location of the tattoo. He looked at Bashir, then at Odo. “Now that was uncalled for,” he said.

Ronnie Kozar sat in his office preparing crew evaluation reports. The executive officer had the responsibility of preparing these reports every three months, but larger responsibilities on the front lines in the last four months got in the way of that. The layover at DS9 meant he had a lot of catching up to do. So much for shore leave.

He took a sip of green tea when the door chimed. “Come in,” he said, keeping his gaze on the desk monitor.

Logan stormed into the office with sh’Aqba close behind. “Ronnie,” Logan huffed, “this is the last straw.”

“You said that the last time Tarlazzi drove one of your prized antiques off a cliff,” Kozar retorted.

“All I did,” Tarlazzi stated, walking into the office, “was suggest that we could use the plasma regulators more efficiently if we routed power through the EPS conduits on Deck 17. But once again, that goes against almighty Starfleet rules.”

“Safety protocols call for no more than 15 giga-watts,” sh’Aqba fired back. “Any more than that, and you risk an overload that would knock power on three decks.”

Kozar stood up and raised both hands to ask that the three engineers calm themselves. “I’ve got too much on my plate to comprehend engineer techno-babble right now,” he said. “I heard about the incident this morning. No harm done. But this is war, and this ship will be needed back on the front lines in a week. We don’t always have the luxury of following every minor safety protocol. Just keep a close eye on the power flow of that tech thing. Use your own good judgment, Mister Logan and Miss sh’Aqba.”

“Understood, sir,” Logan and sh’Aqba both answered.

“And try to work out squabbles within your department yourselves,” Kozar added. “You don’t need me to keep playing referee. You’re both chief engineers. Act like it. Dismissed.”

The engineers then quietly filed out of the office. Kozar sat back down looking back at the crew reports, which were only distraction from the wars on and off the ship.

For the first time since being called into Starfleet service, Captain Limis was able to get a full night of sleep. Of course, night and day were fluid concepts in interstellar space, so eight consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep was good enough for her. She set her alarm for 0500. The computer chimed at the set time. “The time is 0500 hours,” the computer’s feminine voice stated.

Limis immediately got out of bed and headed for the shower. After five minutes, she dried herself and got into uniform. Just as she was about a order raktajino from the replicator, the computer chimed once again.

Captain Limis. Incoming message. High priority.

“Put it on the monitor,” Limis replied.

The large monitor screen behind her desk lit up. The symbol of the Republic of Bajor filled the screen. Ancient Bajoran script appeared across the screen. Limis immediately recognized it as This is a holy time.

A raspy male voice was then heard in the transmission. “Focus on the task at hand,” it said. “Pagh’tem’far b’tanay.”

The Bajoran insignia was then replaced by a set of fractal images. Limis had the foresight to close her eyes and raise one hand to shield her eyes. She then unshielded her eyes when the transmission ended.

Limis suddenly felt a chill, as if she had seen a ghost from her past. “Computer, place a Level 9 encryption on that last transmission,” she said. She then tapped her combadge to call sickbay. “Limis to sickbay.”

“This is Doctor Markalis,” a dispassionate and almost robotic sounding voice on the other end replied.

“Can you come to my quarters, Doctor?” she requested.

“Okay,” Markalis reluctantly replied with a sigh.

Limis was busy trying to trace the transmission at her desk using tricks she had learned from her time in Starfleet Intelligence when the doctor entered. Limis smiled even knowing Markalis rarely ever smiled. “Hope I didn’t interrupt your beauty sleep,” Limis joked.

“I was already on duty, Captain,” Markalis replied quietly. “ I would be neglecting my duties had I been sleeping.”

“Of course,” Limis relented, feeling for a minute that she wanted to explain the joke. But then she remembered that Markalis did not always know when someone was making a joke. “I know you prefer not to make house calls,” the captain continued, standing up and walking towards the sofa. “But I just need you to take a few scans.”

Markalis set down her med-kit on the glass coffee table. She then sat down at the captain’s left and pulled a medical tricorder out of the kit. “That is what is so different from being just a surgeon,” she remarked.

“Why did you decide to become a doctor?” Limis curiously asked. Since taking command of the Lambda Paz, she found the chief medical officer to be the most curious of crewmembers. Markalis’s service record indicated she gravitated towards assignments requiring minimal interactions with colleagues outside the medical department.

“Combat situations are very chaotic,” Markalis explained. “My job is to clean up the mess in an orderly manner. I bring order to chaos.” She opened her medical tricorder and began scanning, while training the hand sensor over the captain’s head.

“How very Borg-like,” Limis quipped.

“Only I don’t rob people of their individuality,” the doctor replied.

“Was that a joke?”

“I was merely pointing out the flaw in your metaphor.” Markalis closed the tricorder and tucked it away in the med-kit. “I can tell you I found nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Nothing to indicate hypnosis?” Limis asked with a hint of disappointment.

“I would’ve detected elevated neurotransmitter levels in your cerebral cortex. I’d have to do a more detailed workup in sickbay.”

“That’s quite all right, Doctor. I’d be more worried if he had left evidence behind. He’s not that careless.”

“Who is not that careless?”

“An old colleague in the Maquis.”

Fifteen minutes later, Limis had changed into civilian clothes. She summoned Kozar to her quarters who arrived while Limis was packing up a duffel bag. “Are you coming to your senses and resigning?” he half-jokingly asked.

“Very funny, Kozar,” Limis replied curtly. She could not believe her first officer had the gall to make a joke like that a month after an incident that prompted Kozar to relieve her of command. Limis had used torture to obtain crucial information. She, furthermore, caused the death of a civilian. Both would ordinarily have her booted out of the service. However, the Judge Advocate General’s office elected not to take any disciplinary actions, and she was quickly reinstated.

“I’m letting you know I received special orders from Starfleet,” the captain continued. “You’re in command while I’m on Bajor.”

“Bajor?” Kozar repeated. “What is the nature of this mission?”

“I’ve said all I can,” Limis answered, zipping the bag shut. She then hung the duffel bag on her right shoulder. “Just hold down the fort until I get back.”

Limis quickly made her way to the runabout Allegheny, docked in the main shuttlebay. To her surprise, Morrison was already occupying the primary pilot seat. Like his captain, he was also out of uniform as if volunteering to accompany her. He swiveled his seat around to face Limis, phaser in hand.
“Do you know how many regs you’re violating pointing a phaser at your captain?” Limis sternly asked.

“I have a good idea,” Morrison retorted. “Commander Kozar asked me to do some checking. You never received any encrypted messages, no Code 47 transmissions. In fact, you deleted a message from Bajor this morning.”

“Do the words ‘captain’s eyes only’ mean anything to you? I’ll add that to the list of charges.”

Morrison picked up a padd balanced at the end of the console. “Not if Commander Kozar gets this first,” he warned.

“Blackmail?” Limis aghastly asked. “You’re trying to blackmail me now?”

“Unless you allow me to accompany me on this so-called mission of yours.”

“If it assures you I have nothing to hide,” Limis grumbled, throwing her duffel bag aside and sitting down in the secondary pilot seat, “but only if you delete the contents of that padd immediately.”

Morrison entered a command into the padd, deleting the information on the screen. He smiled and showed the blank screen to Limis.

“The let’s get underway.”

After both pilots ran through all the pre-flight checks, the outer shuttle door opened. The runabout then slipped through the protective forcefield and veered downwards on a course for Bajor.
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Old November 11 2009, 07:44 PM   #43
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Four

In Captain Limis’s absence, Commander Kozar had the responsibility of chairing staff meetings among other command responsibilities. He was accustomed to these more mundane aspects of command, as he expected to become captain of the Lambda Paz. The assignment of Limis as CO and relegation of Kozar was a proverbial slap in the face. Hopefully, Morrison would learn something incriminating on Limis during this mission on alleged special orders from Starfleet.

Since the ship docked at DS9, the senior staff held daily briefings regarding the latest repair needs and how to prioritize them. The repairs were proceeding smoothly, but finding replacement personnel was more difficult. The ship had suffered heavy casualties during a counter-attack at the Betreka Nebula that coincided with Operation Return with enemy forces largely diverted towards holding onto the station.

Chief engineers Logan and sh’Aqba were seated on one side of the table at Kozar’s right. Doctor Markalis was seated at the acting captain’s left. Representing the security department in Morrison’s absence was the Triexian deputy chief, Lieutenant Tirun Ra Hoth, who was next to the doctor. Relief tactical officer, Bolian ensign Jovis Ren was seated next to Ra Hoth.

“First item is the status of the engines,” Kozar stated, looking at a padd in front of him. “Mister Logan?”

“Impulse engines are at peak efficiency,” Logan answered. “Dilithium realignment still requires a few more days of work.”

“Very good,” said Kozar. “Sh’Aqba, how are you coming with those ODN relays?”

“Some of the gel packs on Deck 10 blew out,” the Andorian lieutenant answered. “Replacements are hard to come by, so we’re converting to isolinear circuitry.”

“What about weapons?” Kozar asked, looking over to Ren.

“We now have a full compliment of quantum torpedoes,” Ren answered. “We’re still having trouble with the phaser emitter crystals.”

“Make that a top priority then,” Kozar replied. “Regarding replacement personnel, we lost a lot of our security officers when the Jem’Hadar boarded during the last engagement.”

“Commander Morrison has been searching for replacement MACO commander,” Ra Hoth added. “None of our current troops have enough leadership experience.”

“I think he has Lisa Neeley in mind,” Kozar offered. “She was the Defiant’s weapons officer, but that position is likely going back to Commander Worf.” He then looked to Doctor Markalis. “What about sickbay?”

“Two of the stasis units are still off-line,” the doctor replied.

“I can get someone to take a look, Doctor,” sh’Aqba offered. “And I believe the EMH is experiencing some kind of optronic error.”

“Good,” Markalis shot back. “Keep him that way.”

“Look into the problem with the EMH, Lieutenant,” Kozar chimed in, ignoring Markalis’s comment. “Dismissed.”

Each of the other officers filed out either through the bridge entrance or the side entryway behind the monitor screen. “Doctor Markalis, please stay,” the first officer called out.

When all the other officers in the briefing were gone, he motioned with his hand for the doctor to sit. He decided to give it to her straight, even though Markalis complied with Kozar’s directive with a child-like look of repentance on her face.

“You were responsible for that optronic error,” Kozar stated.

“Yes,” Markalis remorsefully answered. “But he’s a jerk. I don’t care for some trick of light arguing every little medical diagnosis.”

“This is war, Doctor. We need all the officers and crew we can spare. Hell, an ex-Maquis outranks me. That ‘trick of light’ is a walking talking medical database. At least try to get along with him.”

“Yes, sir,” Markalis deferently replied.

“At ease, Doctor,” Kozar said calmly and with a smile. “It’s human nature to think of doctors as larger than life, but they’re not indestructible. And we have to make do with our EMH. I’m just asking that you try to accept him as a member of this crew.”

“I will try,” Markalis replied. “Am I dismissed, sir?”

“Of course,” Kozar answered. He looked out the viewport as Markalis departed and mumbled, “And I should start to practice what I just preached.”

Jaro Essa sat in a cell at Kran-Tobal Prison on Bajor, writing on a sheet of paper. Nearly a dozen sheets of paper filled the floor of the cell. He spent the last four years at this prison since leading a failed coup d’etat against the Bajoran government. After the coup failed, Jaro confessed to his role and immediately resigned from the Council of Ministers in disgrace. As a private citizen, he was then tried and convicted of treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government. Writing was one way to pass the time. At first, the wardens had his controversial philosophical and religious treatises. That was until Jaro reminded them the Bajoran people fought for a century to end that kind of tyranny.

Two male Bajoran militia guards escorted Limis and Morrison to Jaro’s cell. They both sat down in front of transparent screen. Jaro slowly walked to the screen smiling as he sat down to face his former Resistance colleague. “To what do I owe the pleasure, Vira?” he pleasantly asked.

“You’ve put on weight, Essa,” Limis observed.

“Being in prison does that you. Surely, you didn’t come to reminisce about old times.”

Limis shot a candid glance at Morrison. “Will you excuse us, Morrison?” she said.

Morrison obliged with a nod and walked away. Limis then looked back at Jaro. “Earlier today, I received a transmission from Teero Anaydis trying to get me to join his little group. Thankfully, I shielded my eyes. And yesterday, members of the Circle attacked Deep Space Nine’s resident Cardassian. They may also be responsible for sabotage that injured three of my officers.”

“And so you came to me,” Jaro replied. “What do you expect of me, Vira? Am I supposed to tell these radicals acting in my name that Teero has it all wrong?”

“Nothing so grandiose. You know how Teero thinks. You can take him into confidence and find out what his next plans are.”

“I may not agree with his methods, but I support his position.”

Jaro sighed and stood up slowly. He paced back and forth in the cell. “I am a changed man, though,” he continued. “I have to come to know the love of the Prophets. I and much of my former supporters have come to see we were led astray by the trappings of power. Federation membership will not cause us to lose our cultural identity, which is more than we can say regarding fifty years of Cardassian rule.

“For right now, the Federation is playing a dangerous game with Bajor. How can we truly stand alone if Starfleet is now back in control of Deep Space Nine?”

“The Council of Ministers is debating abdicating the non-aggression pact,” Limis offered.

“While politicians are doing that, our people are in a very precarious position.”

“You’ll give my request some thought, at least?”

“Even if I knew where Teero was hiding, why would I share that with you and your Federation colleagues?”

“The Federation has reminded us that words can sometimes be more effective that guns, because peace at the point of a gun is no peace at all.”

Jaro raised an eyebrow at hearing his own words quoted. “’By taking up arms against our brothers and sisters,” he said finishing the passage of one of his published works, “we became the enemy we sought to defeat!’”

“First Minister Shakaar is considering my request for a furlough,” Limis stated. “He should have his answer tomorrow.”

She left the visitor section of the cell block leaving her old mentor to contemplate his choices.

The following morning, Limis used the prison warden’s office monitor to communicate with First Minister Shakaar Edon. She remembered he had longer hair from photographs of Bajoran Resistance leaders. The shorter hair and clean-shaven face was more appropriate even for a soldier-turned-politician.

“You understand if I’m still a bit skeptical, Captain,” the First Minister stated. “Plenty can go wrong when dealing with Teero Anaydis. If anything did wrong as a result of granting your request. I would have to answer for it in the next election.”

“I can appreciate your position on this, Minister,” Limis replied. “Jaro knows how Teero thinks. They were close colleagues during the Occupation. He can find out what his next move might be.”

“Even so, the plan you are suggesting is too dangerous. I regret to inform you the request for a furlough is denied.”

That was hardly much of an obstacle for Limis. She later returned to the main lobby asking to visit Jaro again. “You’ll have to surrender your weapon,” the male guard told her. “You know the drill.”

Limis slowly removed her phaser from her holster. She then quickly fired the phaser, stunning the guard. A second guard at the cellblock drew his phaser. Limis turned and stunned him.

Limis then used the stunned guard’s own fingers to tap his combadge. She grabbed the badge, opened the casing and removed the transtator. She placed it inside the door control to get inside the cellblock.

She reached Jaro’s cell without further resistance,. Jaro was speechless as he noticed Limis with a phaser in hand. “Stand back,” she commanded him. She fired her phaser at the cell door opening it.

“Why are you doing this?” Jaro curiously inquired, slowly walking out of the cell.

“My request for a furlough was denied,” Limis replied.

“I see your time in Starfleet—however short it’s been—hasn’t softened you.”

“Limis to the Allegheny,” the captain said, tapping her combadge. “Two to beam up.”

The two of them dematerialized.
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Old November 16 2009, 11:03 PM   #44
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Five

Mandel Morrison sat at the primary pilot seat when the doors to the aft compartment opened. Limis and Jaro stepped into the cockpit. “Take us to the planet’s magnetic pole, Commander,” Limis ordered. “I’ll explain later.”

“Whom exactly are we hiding from?” Morrison asked.

“Just set the damned course, or I can do it myself.” Limis stormed towards the secondary pilot seat at Morrison’s right and entered the course change. “You remember former Minister Jaro,” she said, more calmly.

Morrison swung his chair around to greet their runabout’s newest passenger. “Minister,” he said with a blank nod.

Jaro sensed that the human officer would mention his role in the attempted coup four years earlier. That was the one and only thing that he had been for in the interim. That one disgrace erased years of heroic accomplishments during the Occupation.

“Despite what history might say about me, Commander,” he said, “I was a victim of circumstance, as many of my followers were.”

“So why are you here, sir?” Morrison inquired.

“Because Teero is a fanatic. His use of mind control is too dangerous. I’m still not fond of the Federation now that Bajor is caught up in a destructive war. We still depend on them to protect us from the Dominion.”

“We can debate this later gentlemen,” Limis chimed in. “Right now, we need to find Teero Anaydis.”

“That’s where I come in,” said Jaro. “We were part of the same resistance cell. We often hid in the mountains of Ilvya Province.”

“That could be the first place the Bajoran government looks,” Morrison suggested. “In fact, we have no way of knowing if he is still in Bajor.”

Limis began entering commands to open a communications channel. “Yesterday morning,” she explained. “I received a transmission from Bajor. Teero tried to recruit me. I’m going to let him think he succeeded.”

She sent a printout message to the Ilvya mountains saying she had stolen a Starfleet runabout and was wanting to meet with Teero. Jaro then entered a random set of words that was then translated and transliterated into ancient Bajoran. “We used a set of codes to assure our colleagues the Cardassians were not tricking them into giving away their positions,” he explained to Morrison.

“An Underground Railroad,” Morrison commented.

Both Jaro and Limis glanced at Morrison, not understanding the term.

“Five hundred years ago on Earth,” Morrison explained, “escaped slaves communicated meeting locations through song.” Turning his console, he said, “I’m now piggy-backing the transmission to Bajoran carrier frequencies.”

“Now, we wait,” Limis quietly remarked.

Almost immediately, the communications panel at Limis’s console chirped. Teero sent a printout message instructing Limis to beam down to a set of coordinates included in the message. “That was a little too easy,” she murmured.

Limis left her seat and walked over to the cockpit’s aft consoles. Once there, she pulled out an emergency med-kit from the bottom hatch. “Before we beam down,” she said, “we need to be prepared.”

She removed a hypospray from the kit and injected herself on the side of her neck. “First a neural inhibitor in case Teero tries to brainwash us.” She then injected Jaro with the same drug. “And sub-dermal communicators.” For those, she took a rectangular device and injected hers and Jaro’s left wrist.

“Meanwhile, I’ll be up here eavesdropping,” Morrison sarcastically remarked.

“But I want you to land the ship in a secluded area of the planet,” Limis added. “Make it look like it crash-landed with ships chasing it from here to DS9.”

“Understood,” Morrison sighed. He was now wishing he hadn’t undertaken this fool’s errand. He was only here to help Kozar dig up dirt, but now he was embarking on a possible mission of no return.

Limis and Jaro materialized in a dark subterranean cavern. It was just like all the other caverns where she and her resistance colleagues convened to plan strikes against the Cardassians. The soft breeze created an eerie howl. It was an ominous reminder to Limis that she was here to undermine a terrorist group rather than support one.

She trained her wrist beacon ahead of her to see in front of herself, and felt a sudden chill. “Something doesn’t feel right,” she mused.

“Are you suggesting we abandon the mission?” Jaro inquired.

“Not at all.”

Limis was ready to pull her phaser, when heard footsteps that were not her own or Jaro’s. A gray-haired Bajoran man slowly walked over to them. He was still a few decades younger than Jaro, and he kept his hair slightly long as a reminder of his greatest achievements. He stared at Jaro to make sure his eyes were not deceiving him. His old friend had been incarcerated, and he was thinner when they last crossed paths.

“Essa?” he gasped.

“It’s me, Anaydis,” Jaro confirmed. “Of course, your newest recruit had to break me out of prison.”

Teero smiled and walked over to Limis. “Captain, you’ll make a valuable addition,” he said. “A Bajoran former Maquis now in Starfleet. You have information that can be helpful.”

“Thank you, sir,” Limis replied. “I’ll do my best to serve you.”

“Come to my chambers,” Teero declared. “Let’s have a drink.”

The living area Teero led them to reminded Limis of the one-room tenement housing on Volan Three. The walls were made of rusted metal. The furniture was run down and worn out. Anyone not knowing any better would think this room was a crashed freighter. “I’m sorry if the accommodations are not to your liking,” Teero stated. “We all had to settle for this throughout our lives.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way now,” Limis offered. “The Occupation has been over for six years.”

“True. But I have gotten used to being a hunted man. I never really fit in anywhere. Even the Maquis rejected me.”

Teero sauntered over to a counter and picked up a pitcher containing a blue liquid. He poured it into three glasses. He handed two of them over to Jaro and Limis. He picked up the third and raised it in a toast. “To fight lost causes.”

The three Bajorans tapped their glasses together. Limis then took a sip and winced. “Is this Romulan ale?” she asked.

“I have connections with smugglers,” Teero explained. Then to Jaro, he said, “Essa, you understand my position of all people.”

Jaro nodded in confirmation.

“We have a non-aggression pact with the Dominion,” Teero continued, “despite the actions of a few malcontents. But Starfleet once again controls the space station.”

“Yes,” Jaro agreed. “It is a volatile conflict of interest. The Federation presence makes this star system a tempting target everyday. That is why we must stand alone per the Emissary’s warning.”

“I met him a few times,” said Limis. “He cited my leadership skills and creative thinking in combat when recommending me to command the Lambda Paz. Now I see, I don’t owe the Federation a damn thing.”

Jaro took a sip of ale and inhaled slowly. “I feel I must inform you, Teero,” he said, “that Captain Limis was not affected by your hypnosis. She’s selling us out to Starfleet.”

Limis was about to deny the statement, but the look of surprise in her eyes gave her away.

“I know,” Teero replied. “Which is why I dispatched a Bajoran interceptor to shoot down her shuttle.”

Teero snapped his fingers. A door in an alcove off in a corner of the room opened. Two unkempt, disheveled Bajorans shoved Mandel Morrison inside. Blood down the left side of his lips. He and Limis gazed at each other in horror.
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Old November 30 2009, 12:37 AM   #45
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Chapter Six

“You lying son of a bitch!”

Limis was furious with Jaro’s sudden betrayal. She could have killed him had she not been disarmed at the same time Morrison was brought in.

“I’m very sorry,” Jaro coldly replied. “But I could not allow you to completely undermine Teero’s efforts.”

“All that about being a born-again believer of the Prophets,” said Limis, “and not harming our brothers and sisters. That was all a lie?”

“I was taking advantage of a rare opportunity.”

“Take them below,” Teero ordered the two guards. “Prepare them for the mind alteration.”

Limis and Morrison were taken into a dank and musty room below Teero’s residence. Water was dripping from the rocky ceiling. The only lighting came from a fixture dangling from the ceiling blinking on and off.

“Just after you beamed down,” Morrison deadpanned, “a Bajoran interceptor came right at the runabout like it knew where to find me.”

“I really thought he had changed, “ Limis lamented aloud. “I would have thought he had learned he had seen that he was turning on fellow Bajorans after what we all fought for together.”

“Well, I hope you’re happy,” Morrison scowled. “I tried sending out a distress call, but I don’t know if it got the Deep Space 9. Now we’re going to become that lunatic’s newest sleeper agents.”

“I never asked you to come on this mission,” Limis shot back. “This was a mission ordered by Intelligence.”

“You never mentioned your ties to Starfleet Intelligence.”

“You, of all people, should know agents of Starfleet Intelligence do not reveal themselves to just anyone. And my captaincy give me the privilege of keeping a few things to myself.”

Morrison rolled his eyes and began pacing back and forth in a the small room having barely enough room for walking. “All this advance technology, but we don’t have the means to get out of this cellar,” he grumbled.

“So what are your plans for you to force the Federation to withdraw from Bajor?” Jaro asked Teero while sharing another round of Romulan ale.

“All in good time, my friend,” Teero grinned, raising his glass. “The explosion in the Ferengi’s bar and the attack on the Cardassian spy sent a message that we will not be toyed with.

“The hypnotic message I sent your protégé was just a test to see what kind of improvements I must make.. My first target is Shakaar.”

“I should remind you the First Minister is not an autocrat,” Jaro offered. “His supporters “His supporters and his opponents will soon catch on.”

“Patience is an important factor,” Teero replied. “I have operatives gathering information on his top supporters and opponents.”

The friendly conversation was interrupted when both men heard the sound of weapon discharges and explosions. Both listened carefully to be sure that was what they were. Both them stood up, when they heard a man cry out. Teero grabbed a phaser rifle under the kitchen counter and threw it Jaro. He then picked up another rifle for himself.

Teero darted for the door to lend hand to his colleagues. Jaro followed slowly, but then he turned back to the cellar entrance when Teero was far enough away.

Limis and Morrison expected they were going to be mind altered when Jaro entered. “I know of another way of these catacombs,” he announced to them.

“Don’t let him fool you, Captain,” Morrison whispered.

“It’s better than waiting to be mind altered,” Limis replied.
As they were walking up to the main living area, three Starfleet troops entered armed with phaser rifles. Limis and Morrison recognized the Triexian as Ra Hoth and the Brikar in a MACO jumpsuit as Mik Tannin. The tall red-haired human woman was unfamiliar to them, though.

“Looks like everyone here is all right,” she declared, upon seeing Limis, Morrison, and Jaro uninjured. “Lieutenant Lisa Neeley, Deep Space 9,” she said, introducing herself to Limis.

“I recommended her as the new MACO commander,” Morrison said to Limis.

“Looks like you earned the job,” Limis candidly replied.

Captain’s log, stardate 51245.1: A team from the Lambda Paz, with the help of a group of Bajoran Militia retrieved Commander Morrison and me. Jaro has been returned to Kran-Tobal Prison. No sign remains of Teero, but extra firewalls have been put in place on the communications frequencies of members of the Council of Ministers.

Limis later explained a few matters to Morrison while sauntering through the corridors. “I did receive a transmission from Starfleet Intelligence,” she stated. “They also contacted Shakaar asking him to deny my request for a furlough.”

“So he would have plausible deniability if anything went wrong,” Morrison finished.

“Plus, I had to make my effort to join Teero’s little cabal appear convincing.”

“And Jaro was there to appear to betray at the right moment.”

“The was his idea. We both could’ve ended up dead if Teero began to suspect we were working for Intelligence.”

“I still don’t understand one thing,” Morrison said, while they stopped at the door to his quarters. “Wouldn’t this operation constitute unlawful interference in Bajoran internal affairs?”

“Under a new General Order,” Limis replied. “Starfleet can use any means necessary to neutralize threats to Deep Space 9, given the station’s strategic importance during the war.”
Morrison silently nodded.

“Good night, Morrison,” said Limis. “See you on the bridge at 0700.”

Morrison entered his quarters to see Sara Carson seated on the sofa to his confusion. “I used the transporter,” she said in anticipation of Mandel’s query about how she got in.
Morrison sighted in regret. “We had a holosuite appointment,” he remembered. “I had an important mission.”

“Save the excuses, Mandel,” Sara shot back. “You volunteered for this mission. The captain didn’t need your help.”

“I sent the distress call that allowed her to be rescued.”

“That is beside the point. We’ve been together long enough to have an understanding of where our relationship is going. You don’t know if I’m just another one of your conquests or someone you are genuinely in love with.”

“I never said this was an exclusive partnership.”

“You never said it wasn’t. You obviously have a fear of commitment. I can’t wait for you to get over that fear. I’m sorry.”

Carson stormed out of the quarters, leaving Morrison at a loss for words.

Limis’s desk in her ready room was cluttered with padds containing various status reports. She had a lot of catching up to do after two days on Bajor.

The door chimed while she was reading two padds at once. “Come in,” she said, without looking away.

Kozar entered. “We’ll be ready to get underway in another couple of days,” he reported.

“Good,” Limis replied setting down the padds. “There’s another matter. Sit down.”

Kozar sat in one of the guest chairs eager to hear what Limis had to say.

“I understand you asked Morrison to do some snooping around,” Limis candidly stated. “He even blackmailed me letting him accompany me.”

Limis paused for a moment, and Kozar began to speak.
“Hypothetically speaking,” Limis continued, “if you were captain and I was first officer, you’d be well within your rights to throw me in the brig for behaving that way?”

“Correct,” Kozar replied.

“So from now on, if I even suspect anyone on this ship of conspiracy to commit mutiny, I will personally throw you in the brig. Understood?!”

“Yes, ma’am… sir,” Kozar stuttered.

Teero Anaydis sat in a chair in a dark room. The only lighting was from light fixture shining straight down on him. A raspy feminine voice was speaking in his mind.

Everything has failed.

Teero was communicating telepathically with this mysterious presence. I never expected Jaro Essa would sell us out.

Of course, and that is why all our plans are on hold.
We will continue however. We will eventually deal with First Minister Shakaar Edon in our own way.
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